Question: Minor’s contract | ‘A’, a minor having a well-built body and quite tall falsely represented his age and obtained a loan of Rs. 10,000 and spent the loan amount on his luxuries. The moneylender filed a suit for recovery of money on contract and also in the alternative asked for damages arising out of tort of deceit… Read More »

Question: Minor’s contract | ‘A’, a minor having a well-built body and quite tall falsely represented his age and obtained a loan of Rs. 10,000 and spent the loan amount on his luxuries. The moneylender filed a suit for recovery of money on contract and also in the alternative asked for damages arising out of tort of deceit committed by ‘A’. Can ‘A’ be held liable either on the contract or in torts? Discuss. [DJS 1996] Find the answer to the...

Question: Minor’s contract | ‘A’, a minor having a well-built body and quite tall falsely represented his age and obtained a loan of Rs. 10,000 and spent the loan amount on his luxuries. The moneylender filed a suit for recovery of money on contract and also in the alternative asked for damages arising out of tort of deceit committed by ‘A’.

Can ‘A’ be held liable either on the contract or in torts? Discuss. [DJS 1996]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Minor’s contract | ‘A’, a minor having a well-built body and quite tall falsely represented his age and obtained a loan of Rs. 10,000 and spent the loan amount on his luxuries. The moneylender filed a suit… Can ‘A’ be held liable either on the contract or in torts? Discuss.]

Answer

Section 10 requires that the parties to a contract must be competent and Section 11 declares that a minor is not competent. But neither section makes it clear whether, if a minor enters into an agreement, it would be voidable at his option or altogether void. These provisions had, therefore, quite naturally given rise to a controversy about the nature of a minor’s agreement.’

The controversy was only resolved in 1903 by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in their well-known pronouncement in Mohori Bibee v. Dharmodas Ghose [(1903) 30 A 114] Sir Lord North observed: “Looking at Section 11 their Lordships are satisfied that the Act makes it essential that all contracting parties should be competent to contract and expressly provides that a person who by reason of infancy is incompetent to contract cannot make a contract within the meaning of the Act. The question whether a contract is void or voidable presupposes the existence of a contract within the meaning of the Act, and cannot arise in the case of an infant.”

Ever since this decision it has not been doubted that a minor’s agreement is absolutely void. In England also The Infants’ Relief Act of 1874 declares the following categories of a minor’s agreement to be “absolutely void”.

  1. contract for repayment of money lent or to be lent, or
  2. contract for goods supplied or to be supplied (other than necessary), and
  3. contract for accounts stated.

No estoppels against Minor: A minor who enters a contract under false pretense and claims to be a major, there will be no estoppel against him and he legally does not need to prove his age in front of the court. The reason behind this is to protect the minors from liability he owes to the major.

No Liability in Contract or in Tort Arising Out of Contract: Moreover, a minor is incapable to give his consent to enter a contract, and therefore, in a contract without consent, no legal action can be taken whatsoever as the contract is void (contract being non-consensual). Hence, an infant who falsifies his age to enter a contract is not liable to pay the compensation or damages during the breach of the contract. Therefore, a minor is not liable for anything in this case.

The case is, therefore, a little different when it comes to tortious liability, a minor can be sued and must pay compensation when it comes to committing torts like negligence or trespass.

But one must note: “You cannot convert a contract into a tort to enable you to sue an infant.”

This means that if an infant enters into a contract and commits a tortious liability, he will be held liable for tort, no. This means that the plaintiff cannot plead to sue the defendant (minor) because of the tort committed in order to get compensated for the breach of contract.

In the present case at hand, where ‘A’, a minor having a well-built body and quite tall falsely represented his age and obtained a loan of Rs. 10,000/- and spent the loan amount on his luxuries. The damage which is caused to the moneylender is arising out of the same of the contract. Thus, ‘A’ can’t be held liable either on the contract or in torts.

In England, it was laid down as early as 1665 in Johnson v. Pye [(1665) 1 Sid 258] that “an infant who obtains a loan of money by falsely representing his age cannot be made to repay the amount of the loan in the form of damages for deceit”.

The court pointed out that if infants were held liable on their contracts by means of actions in tort, all the infants of England would be ruined. Hence a minor cannot be held responsible for anything which would be an indirect way of enforcing his agreement. “You cannot convert a contract into a tort to enable you to sue an infant.” This principle has been generally followed in India.

The Calcutta High Court in Harimohan v. Dulu Miya, [ILR (1934) 61 Cal 1075], refused to hold a minor liable in tort for money lent on a bond. The court said: “If the tort is directly connected with the contract and is the means of effecting it and is a parcel of the same transaction, the minor is not liable in tort.”


Law of Contract Mains Questions Series: Important Questions for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-I
  2. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-II
  3. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-III
  4. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-IV
  5. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-V
  6. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-VI
  7. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-VII
  8. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-VIII
  9. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-IX
  10. Law of Contract Mains Questions Series Part-X
Updated On 2022-01-16T12:42:04+05:30
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